An interview with Naomi Ceder, Software Developer, Public Speaker and Author of The Quick Python Book

As part of our Aspiring Women Speakers series, sponsored by Turntabl.io, I have been talking to successful women in tech who have launched their speaking careers and built on their achievements. Author Naomi Ceder is the Chairperson of the Python Software Foundation and talks regularly at events about her work. I caught up with her recently and asked her to share her journey and hopefully encourage those considering this path to take their first steps and as Naomi says ‘Do it!”

Here is my interview with Naomi:

Do you feel that getting involved in conference speaking has helped your career?

Yes, it definitely has, in several ways. First of all speaking conferences directly lead to me getting a deal to write my book, which over the past 12 years has in turn helped me in my career. Secondly, speaking at conferences is a great way to make more contacts at those conferences and in my case it led me to speak more, meet more people, and to become more involved in my communities (principally Python, but also Linux and open source in education). All of that has been both personally rewarding and has helped my career. At this point I’ve given over 100 talks and workshops and I know that it can really help you develop your professional presence.

What was the defining moment that made you do your first presentation?

As a teacher I had experience being in front of people and speaking and I’d also lead training for other teachers, so it wasn’t completely new. But I’d never done anything as formal as conference talks. I got my start with those when a person on my team wanted to speak at the first PyCon and we decided to do it together. I think that helped give us both a bit of security and confidence and was a good way for both of us to get started.

Do you have any tips or advice for someone about choosing what to talk about?

Do it! Every speaker (at least every speaker I’ve known) has a bit of nerves, but the key is they don’t let it stop them. Focus on the things you value in what you would present and commit to present those aspects the best that you can. It does seem scary, but in fact it’s such a good accomplishment, and people really will be pulling for you when you give your talk. You will get through it and people will respond positively, I promise.

Finally any great blog posts you’d recommend on the subject?

There are so many good posts on the subject that I wouldn’t be able to choose. However, I would suggest sticking to posts on basics — read a few posts on basic presentation techniques and practical considerations, but don’t obsess too much about that. It’s better to find someone you can practice with and get feedback from and just focus on presenting your material clearly.

If you are interested in gaining experience and confidence in your public speaking please get in touch.

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